Thursday, June 18, 2015

That Final Puff

A wellness doctor, is the contemporary Voodoo expert of America. They study nutrition, human digestion, disease that stems from malnutrition, and the impact of our current food options on our bodies. The fad in "hipster" health is: the GUT! Everyone has leaky gut (but seriously, you probably do). And if you don't know what it is, you should google it. And, if you don't have it, then you are one lucky bastard.

As I'm on my quest for answers and healing with my current health issues (the ones that brought me back from China so abruptly and unexpectedly), the leaky gut has been tossed my direction along with Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease ( essentially this is the pre-Lupus, autoimmune condition that is incurable, with no preventative care or measures to slow the process-- and I don't know why I feel the need to throw that helpless spittle the doctors push out into the conversation topic, but perhaps this is just my way of representing how absurd I think our current medical care and knowledge is in America).

In order to pursue all options of treatment and healing, I am also seeing one these Voodoo-gut-healing-crazies ( along with a host of mainstream physicians and specialists). I could refer to the wellness field more technically, and more kindly, as I do think very highly of them, but too often in our culture the joking titles become politically incorrect very quickly, and I'd hate to miss out on the opportunity to tease before it becomes seriously uncool.

My wellness doctor is a very friendly, upbeat, quirky guy, which makes everything he tells me to do a little easier to swallow. He has me on a VAST amount of supplements that I take several times throughout the day, as well as a very restricted diet and lifestyle. Given I've been unable to get out of bed 70% of the time since the onset of my sickness in December of last year, I can't complain too much at his requests-- when you're this young and this sick, you kind of don't care as long as there is hope for something that helps.

So naturally, when he told me, "no grains," I said, "no problem," after all, I've been gluten-free for 6 years, no big deal to give up rice too! When he said, "no dairy," I cringed, because ice-cream and cheese make my favorite food-babies. When he said, "no alcohol," I wept inwardly, but I wasn't about to admit to my love (addiction!) for that red, red wine. Then, when he said,  "no chocolate" I thought he was surely the devil, come to ruin all my joy, but I nodded patiently. At last, he said, "absolutely no coffee." This is when a great murderous desire burned in my heart. Who lives without caffeine, ice-cream, chocolate, or alcohol? Nuns! Do I LOOK like a nun to you? ....and yet, I want so badly to be well again. Very well, wellness doctor, I'll do your bidding.

My body was weak, and had been deteriorating so badly, I was in no state to throw a tantrum in defense of my much beloved foods and beverages. I gave them up, and began a lifestyle of fish oil consumption and steamed zucchini and tons of fermented foods-- dear Lord, pickles were not meant to be a food group unto themselves!

So I've been on this plan for almost two months now (believe me, it feels like SO much longer), and although I do stick to the plan, I weep every time I go anywhere near the grocery store. I like BBQ wings, and GF pizza, and Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey, and Lindt 80% cocoa, and Layer Cake Malbec, and Talenti's Coconut Gelato.  I want to surf through waves of ice cream using my mouth and my hands, and then rinse off in a shower of TEQUILA! I want caffeine for every meal, with a side of BBQ SAUCE! How else do I say this?? Uh, I love to eat. Yes, I am that fat-kid lady, who would so be content through every day with a slice of cake in each hand--and I would never complain about, or even question the calories. I embrace them all for their role in my happiness. There is no such thing as a Katy who frowns when she eats. Sorry, that doesn't exist.

But this blog is not about food (scary that we got this far in and I am just now telling you this), this blog is about CIGARS. Yes, I have been a proud smoker of cigars for over 10 years. Sometimes as many as 4 a day (back when I worked in the industry), and sometimes as few as a couple in a year. But they have always been a comfort to me. When I was younger (the age is not legal and not necessary, so I'll leave that up to your imagination), I would sit in the garage with my sister, late at night, surrounded by the scraps of my dads wood shop and tools that surely were worthy of any Texas Chain Saw Massacre. We would talk for hours into the morning, and puff a cigar together. And we could talk about anything, alone in the garage. Poetry, life, struggles, sorrows, joys, laughter; so much laughter.

As I grew older we would venture together to the 16th St Mall in Denver, and smoke in lounges, surrounded by smoke clouds in poorly ventilated and dimly lit rooms. I'll never forget the feel of leather chairs as my skin clung to them in the summer heat. The many places we would smoke-- The Brown Palace down the line. And always with laughter, always with relaxation and a ceremonious and silent agreement to cast aside the trials of life and just breathe for that cigar.

And then even older, as I moved away from home and still found time to connect with a peaceful mindset. I would hide in the bathtub of my apartment and smoke in the silence of every wonderful 3AM. Or the corners of Paris On The Platte with a chess board and all the early blooming hipsters of the night. Or walking the streets of Denver, or hiding in crowds of strangers, or seeking adventure and new friends. Cigar after sweet cigar. And when I violated my love for the stogie with work, by bar tending or working retail in various smoking lounges across Colorado and Texas, I still took time amid the chaos of a job to pause and puff, and remember laughter and peace and silence and calm and hope and youth and promise. I learned and loved and I appreciated, and this is what a good cigar is to me: it is family and gratitude, it is camaraderie and respect, it is dignity and perspective, it is life.

While I love food, and eating, and ice-cream, I gave up many a meal to the desire for a cigar, and what those moments of calm meant in my life.

And now my wellness doctor has asked me to surrender cigars.

What can I do but comply? Because if he is right, then health comes first.
So I smoked my last, with an ode-- to every moment tobacco meant to my taste buds, Casa Magna thank you:

For the deep inhale
that brings smoke
 curling along the surface
of my tongue,
 whisping along the insides
of my teeth
and respect
 your presence.
You unfurl
 your flavor
onto my taste buds bold
 and sharp, creamy and full
of bitter spice. You
bloom like wine
hiss through my teeth
 loose my lips
 let you drift
watch you slink
upward, spread and disappear.
Rings of smoke.
contemplate the complexity
of your
And every time
I've tasted you before
memories flood back
 couches voices songs haunts
of the night. I remember
my first
and our first,
 the way you stunned
me with your
Hold no expectation
you never disappoint.
 In this you
were the most
of companions,
knew each other well.
and consider the burning
ember tips that file
toward un-warmed
tobacco. Beg another
draw from my lips. Savor
each sweet
moment each sweet
inbetween moment--
not anticipating
And thank you.

You see, my wellness doctor has asked me to surrender cigars. And what can I do but comply? Because if he is right, then health comes first.
But if he is wrong, God help him.

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